Jon Olson


I am a retired academic (Professor of Anthropology at California State University at Los Angeles) but have always maintained a second life of painting. 

My primary professional focus was the ethnography and archeology of Northern Mexico, but I am a lifelong sailor and aviation buff. I am now having a second career in art, primarily, but not exclusively of subjects maritime.

Although not degreed in art, I have had much formal training over the years in university classes and workshops; perhaps the most influential was under the tutelage of Lazlo Kraus, a member of the pre-war circle of artists and musicians in Germany and a personal friend of Wassily Kandinsky.

I was born and raised on the Great Lakes where I learned to sail and spent many hours hanging out with the guys on the fish tugs. My grandfather was a shipbuilder during both wars, and it was from him that I learned most of what I know about the construction and repair of ships and boats. I did a professional exchange to Northeastern University in Boston years back and had the opportunity to expand my background with many pilgrimages to the sites of the birthplaces of our maritime heritage. I co-taught a course called People Who Live By the Sea wherein we explored maritime practices and customs worldwide. For almost twenty years I was associated with the Nautical Heritage Society of Dana Point, the sponsoring organization for the topsail schooner Californian, now a part of the San Diego Maritime Museum. I did the primary historical research into the career of the U.S.Revenue Brig C.W. Lawrence, the cutter which patrolled the California coast during the gold rush and on which the Californian is based.

I find great satisfaction depicting Great Lakes historical and contemporary subjects, particularly from the Green Bay-Sturgeon Bay area of my upbringing, and have a continuing interest in East and West coast maritime activities. I have participated in numerous juried shows over the past ten years or so, including regular participation in the annual maritime art show at Coos Bay, Oregon where I was featured artist in 2010, twice in the EAA aviation art show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, three times in the annual Mystic Seaport International Maritime Exhibit and the Ventura County Maritime Museum annual show. We (Natalie and I) also organized and participated in "A Brush with the Sea" a maritime exhibit held at the Newport (California) Harbor Maritime Museum in 1998-9. I received a First Place in Oils and Acrylics in the(2005) 74th Annual International Exhibition of the Miniature Painters,Sculptors and Gravers Society of Washington,D.C. My focus has expanded recently to painting original and replica small and miniature oil paintings of various subjects, and I enjoy regularly painting in plein air. I am a signature member of ASMA (American Society of Marine Artists) and of ISMP (International Society of Marine Painters), and am a member of the California Art Club. My works both large and small are currently exhibited at the Mountain Arts Gallery in Lake Arrowhead, California.


Jon Olson Original Art for Sale

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